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Grace Notes

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“GOD . . . WAS PLEASED”
by Philip Owen

   Often, to the man in the trench, crouching in the darkness, his eyes blinded and his nose burning with the acrid smell of smoke, with shells whistling over his head, or worse yet, bursting beside him and mangling the bodies of his comrades, the battle made no sense.  He simply obeyed his sergeant and trusted that somewhere a general existed who knew the meaning and purpose of it all.  And many people view their mundane lives in a similar fashion, but those many do not include the troop of believers who know the Lord and believe His Word.  For although not every event and detail are revealed, we are not left to blunder along in the murkiness of ignorance regarding this life.

   The Word of God was given to reveal the purposes of God to men.  To understand that purpose fully, we must know and understand the Book.  Occasionally, however, a simple phrase crystallizes a truth in utter directness and simplicity.  Such is true of a sentence Paul wrote to the church in Galatia:  “God . . . was pleased to reveal His Son in me” (1:15, 16a). 

   If we can remember (and believe) that key clause—“God . . . was pleased”—we will have progressed a long way toward understanding what is happening in our world at any and every moment.  But more importantly, even when we do not understand, we will be able to rest in the knowledge that God is pleased.  What occurs in the life of a believer occurs at the will and pleasure of God.  There are no accidents and no surprises.  Nothing catches the Lord off guard.  He orders and directs our very steps.  Should we choose to rebel, should sin enter in, then he is pleased to chasten us that grace may abound.  From our vantage point, it may sometimes appear that the plan and purpose of God have been thwarted.  Not so.  Even the wrath of men praises Him; otherwise, God restrains it.  And He always does as He pleases.  Furthermore, we may rest in the fact that what pleases Him will prove to be right for us.

   The second part of the clause—“to reveal His Son”—brings us to the heart of God’s purpose.  We read in the gospels of the beginning of the Lord’s formal ministry.  God the Father speaks from heaven these words:  “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17a).  It was His preeminent pleasure and His eternal plan to glorify Himself by revealing who He is through the manifestation of the person and redemptive work of Christ.  Some may believe the revelation of Jesus Christ to be an afterthought of God, a stopgap in the breach of man’s sin.  To suggest that is to deny God’s sovereignty, God’s foreknowledge, God’s omnipotence, and God’s grace.  That sort of view also requires ignorance or rejection of revealed truth, for we read that “He [God] chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  God would not have been pleased to reveal His Son in the manner that some socialites have chosen to present their daughters, at a “coming out” party or a debutante ball.  To reveal His Son, He must reveal His character.  And to do that required such a demonstration of holiness, righteousness, love, and mercy, and grace as the world had never seen and has never seen since:  that a man should lay down His life for His enemies.  Such was the character of the Lord, and so was it in God’s eternal plan to reveal His beloved Son.

   But that is not the whole story.  For the revelation of Jesus Christ did not find its conclusion in the extent of Christ’s thirty-three-year life on earth.  Nor is the revelation completed even on the pages of  the holy Word of God, for John explains that “there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (21:25).  Yes, God has ordained the further revelation of His Son, as Paul expresses it:  “in me.”  And that “me” includes every believer.  It pleases God to put His treasure in earthen vessels.  It pleases Him that we, like the moon—craggy, barren, stark, and desolate—should reveal the glory of His Son as we reflect the light of His radiance.  Are you impressed with other saints?  Does your heart swell with joy in their presence?  Is their fellowship indescribably sweet, compelling and abiding?  You are seeing Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, revealed in the power and glorious blessing of saving grace in a man.  For so it please God.  We know the meaning and purpose of life:  the glorification of God through the revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ.

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